Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cleaning Grease Off Your Counter Top Grill, Sandwich or Waffle Maker

I worked most of the evening in the garden after about getting heat stroke working on the flower beds earlier in the day. It was so hot that I couldn't be out there for more than an hour before coming in to a cold drink and sitting under a ceiling fan on high. 

So, today's post is going to be a bit shorter than normal as I showered after working long into the dark and eating dinner and clean up, I didn't want to take lots of time on another post I want to write but don't want to take that much time tonight. 

It may be an easy post, but it is one that I figure someone may need. I got this counter top grill from Princess One. I don't know if she used it or got it from someone used but I was going to sell it to help pay for summer camps for Princess Five as Princess One always passes the thing she is getting rid of to us to help that way. 

When I removed it from the box, it was greasy and actually got some grease on my carpet. I quickly took it into the kitchen and put it in the sink so I could "degrease" it. 

The grill looked new other than the grease so I used my favorite brand of cleaner. "Totally Awesome" orange cleaner. 

I have used "Totally Awesome" regular cleaner on my toaster oven, stove front, waffle irons and sandwich makers for years now. 

I LOVE it for cleaning the vent hood above my stove. It is such a great product.

I put the item in the sink and spray away inside and out. I let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe it clean. 

Make sure if you are using it on a cooking surface that you rinse the area several times making sure all the cleaning product is off the cooking surface. 

As you can see, it cleaned up nicely and I was able to get $12 for it. Princess One donates items, Princess Two puts them online and I make sure they get delivered or picked up. Princess Five just gets to enjoy going to camps without the worry of cost as her sisters want her to be able to enjoy the things they all enjoyed in high school. It is wonderful that they all support her in her activities. 

I am blessed with wonderfully amazing girls!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Play Ground Beautiful, Smell, Not So Beautiful

I was thrilled having Princess Four home for her spring break this week. We enjoyed time together but I did ask her for some help this week and had Princess Five help as well. 
The day I planned on spreading out the mulch, I got a call soon after staring saying that the food bank had a pallet of strawberries they needed distributed so I got side tracked for hours visiting and distributing flats of strawberries around town. 
By the time I got home, it was late in the day and I asked the girls to help me by moving the two wheel barrels back and forth while I shoveled them full. 

They were good to help until it started getting dark. They got a second wind when I explained that I had the funeral for my friend the next morning and a Dentist appointment for Princess Four the next afternoon. 

They were good troopers and we filled most of the play area and underneath the trampoline. 
When they were both hauling and spreading, between fillings their barrels, I finished one half of the front beds. I pulled out some weeds and filled in with the mulch. I have one small spot left before putting back the stepping stones shown.

You can see the other side of the yard with the weeds and bare dirt. I didn't have time of Friday or Saturday to finish up the yard so I am hoping I can get to it this week as we take Sundays off from working as a day of rest. 
You can see the other side needing to be cleaned out and mulch spread. I did want to put more mulch underneath the trampoline but don't want to use it all up until I get the front and side beds filled up with the mulch. 

I still have a few things I want to finish in the yard and need to take out a dead tree along with washing the picture window vinyl edges but, I have to say that I am happy with the way the back yard is looking with the trees all pruned, wood stacked and the mulch being put in. 
It seems like a yard and home keep you really busy with landscaping etc but since I haven't pruned the big tree in 15 years and haven't put down mulch in 7 years, it is just a big year for catching up on those type of things. 

I will be so happy to have those things off my "to do" list. 

I have forgotten how horrible the mulch smells the first week or two until I went out to the get the mail the next morning as the yard was getting warm with the sun. The smell wears off quickly and I am happy about that. I will also be happy to have my driveway back. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Whole Lot of Crap Makes a Beautiful Yard

Every years for many, many years, I would get manure mulch from our local fair grounds. I would borrow a truck and trailer and get several loads of mulch to put in my yard. 
Each year I would add a few inches of mulch to the flower beds and it would keep the weeds down and the moisture in as well as fertilizing the beds. The worms love the mulch and irrigate the ground and it makes the soil so much better.   

A few years back, we got some biting bird mites and I wasn't sure if they came from the mulch we got as it hadn't had time to mulch much as I got it just after the fair, or if it were from birds nests on the house.

When I put the large play area in the back yard, I wanted to put something down that would be softer for the kids and keep weeds from growing. I checked into gravel but it was expensive and I didn't want it in the grass and house and it isn't soft. 
Because of that, I looked at wood chips but when I helped put them in my sisters yard, I got lots of splinters and didn't want that for the kids feet. (See here for that post.)

Since I had been putting this on my garden beds, I figured it couldn't be bad to put in the back beds and it would be free. It was GREAT for the play area and I figured if I ever wanted to make it a garden area, the ground would be better and more fertile than the red clay we have in our area that makes growing things hard. 

When the phone company was fixing some lines in our area, they dug a hole in the play area and turned under what was left of my mulch covering on the play ground and that would leave me with lots of weeds in the near future. (See that post here)

My sister and I were going to use her truck and trailer to pick it up but her transmission in her truck went. After that, I called a few contractors I know asking them if they had a dump truck we could use to get a load from the fair grounds. 

One had a truck and within twenty minutes, the truck was loaded and dumped and he was gone. It was SO much easier than having to shovel the load out of the trailer and truck backs. 

After the many years of doing this, I learned it is much easier to put the mulch on a tarp so I can cover it in case of a wind storm as we have had a few and it ended up all over the neighbors yard. 

Also, when I am shoveling it into the wheel barrels, it would get into the grass and edges of the driveway and sweeping made dusty stink all over. With the tarp, I can just lift it up and dump the last dusty mess into a wheel barrel and no sweeping needed.

You may not have access to fair grounds but many dumps have a mulching pit where you can go and get a load for not a ton of money as well. Here is a post about her getting them from the dump. Also, some tree pruning places also sell mulched branches as well. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Washing Brick or Stone Around Fireplaces or Wood Stoves

I have lived in my home for 20 years now. Over the years, I have many times washed the wood stove parts, pipes and washed the brick under the stove. 

I vacuum the bricks and then take a mop or a scrub brush and wash the bricks below the stove to get the dust, ash and soot off of them. 

The other day, I had some company visiting and I was sitting across from the wood stove and noticed that the bricks were due for another washing. 
I vacuumed them off and got the mop out to begin. I like using a mop head that has some scrubbers on it so that it will scrub the bricks and not just "wet" them.
As I was washing the bricks below the stove, I thought about how I had never washed the bricks on the back and there had to be dust and soot on them after 20 years. 
I started using the mop to wash the bricks on the sides and wall. It actually worked really well. I had to rinse the mop quite often and I didn't have too much water on the mop. 
I didn't want the mop to drip on the carpet so I wrung it out several times leaving the mop wet but not dripping. 

You can see how much brighter the bricks look after they were washed and dried than before I washed it.  

I also washed the sides of the wood stove and the pipes using the mop. 

I clean out the inside of the stove often and perhaps I will post about how I do that. I am probably a bit more OCD about cleaning out the inside of the stove more than most but I think it helps the burn when the stove is cleaner. 

As you can see, the mop picked up the dirt really well and it was a quick way to get the bricks clean and save time cleaning.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dehydrating, Dehydrated, Drying and Freezing Asparagus

I have shared for the past two days about how the food bank in our area sometimes has more produce than they can give out. 

Being on the board for the food bank, they sometimes ask me to distribute the excess to people I know around town. 

I filled my car and distributed cases of asparagus for hours and hours. 

I saved a few cases for myself and processed them in different ways. 

I share a video on several of the posts about how I freeze, dehydrate and cook asparagus. 

Wash the stocks in a group and cut the bottoms off. At this point, I cut the bottom 1/2 of the bases into 1 inch slices. 

I bag them to freeze or dehydrate the bottom half for stir-fry or to grind once dehydrated to use in cream soups.

The top half, I cut into 1 inch slices and bag to freeze for eating or putting in soups.

Once I have some frozen, I dehydrate the top 1/2 on different trays than the bottom half as they are more tender and are great in omelets or to use in rice. 
The bottom halves are tough and stringy when dried or frozen so are better for different things.

You can freeze full length asparagus but I find it does better in shorter pieces as they sometimes break when frozen anyway.

They were on the dehydrator for about 24 hours and both Princess Five and I just ate them dried and kept picking up a piece as we walked past. I was surprised at how good it is dehydrated. Even the bottom of the stalks are good dried. That was a surprise to me. 

I highly recommend dehydrated asparagus. I can honestly say I never thought I would say that! It is YUMMY!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Broiled or Grilled Parmesan Asparagus

I explained in the post yesterday that our local food bank has had lots of extra foods lately. A few weeks back, they had a huge pallet of asparagus. 
They came in these cool boxes that are super strong and held 12 bunches of asparagus and had water pads in the bottom to keep the asparagus moist. 

The tips were closed and beautiful and the asparagus was tasty and fresh. 
The food bank asked me to deliver it to people as there was no way they would be able to give it all out. I filled up my car and spent a day or two distributing it. Most people were thrilled to get a box and freeze some. 

I shard with people our favorite way to eat asparagus when I was dropping it off. 

Ruth, (See a post about her here) my friend that passed away this month, was the person to share with me how she made hers. She served it at Bunko one day. She did hers on the grill but I do mine with the broiler.  
I then made it this way for my girls and it soon became our favorite way to eat asparagus. 

Basically, you just cut off the bottoms so that they are fresh. Line them up on a cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil on them and put salt and pepper on them. Sprinkle Parmesan  cheese on top. 
You can cover it with aluminum foil for the first 8 minutes and then remove the foil for the last few minutes. Place under the broiler at about 450 degrees for about ten to twelve minutes total. If you don't cover it, it gets a bit dried but is still good.

Here is a video of how I froze the asparagus and how I prepare and use it. I am posting the same video on some other posts about asparagus so if someone looks up one post, they can see it as well.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Easy Cheesy Asparagus Pasta

I'm so tired and have been working on something but don't want to take the time to post about it today so I am going to share an easy recipe we made the other day since we had so much asparagus as we got tons from an overage at the local food bank. 

Bring noodles to a boil. While they are cooking, about five minutes until they will be through cooking, throw in some chopped asparagus. It will steam the asparagus just enough that they have good flavor but doesn't have to get mushy as if you over boil asparagus, it goes a mushy texture. 
Once you have the noodles and asparagus cooked, drain the water and put back on the burner. You can purchase cream Alfredo sauce to use if you are in a hurry. If not in a hurry, you can put in sour cream, some cream cheese and add some shredded Parmesan cheese and some shredded Colby or mozzarella. The amount of cheese depends on how many noodles you cooked.

If you like spicy food, you can add a few shakes of sriracha sauce into the mix. Stir and taste once the mixture has had time enough to warm. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as we did. I did. 

I have fallen asleep over and over just to try and post this. Sleep-itis has taken over. I Hopefully, I will finish my project today and get it posted soon.